Monthly Archives: January 2021


Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)

One thing I do not have a shortage of is inspiration for subjects. The general subject matter ie birds, is not in short supply though my reference photos can be a restriction at times.

Having been lucky enough to travel a lot in my life, and having a keen interest in nature and birds, I have amassed a huge collection of photos from around the world. Also, I have lived close to forests of various kinds so have been able to spend time searching for flora and fauna to add to my collection.

The first thing I do before starting to paint at the beginning of the week is to look through my bird images in Lightroom, software that I find invaluable for managing the 200,000 digital photos I have in my database. About 15,000 of these are bird photos though I have to stress that the quality of some photos is not at all great but serve only for me to use as reference. Lightroom also allows me to make adjustments to images to improve lighting or sharpness.

The bird above that I painted today is a Spotted Towhee. I saw it while visiting Vancouver and saw it moving around a bush with lots of twigs but few leaves. I took about 10 photos before moving on on my walk around Stanley Park. It was my first sighting of this species, as well as of Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, White-crowned Sparrow and a few others.

I painted seven birds this week – I try to do one per day but also paint other subjects with priority given to requests / commissioned pieces.

One colour I use a lot is Payne’s Gray though had exhausted my small supply of it last month. So I made some using a mix of Sepia and Ultramarine Blue. The mix worked well. I use it in place of black, adding tints of blue, purple or brown in some birds and to create strong shades with a hint of green in the rare landscapes that I paint. I find it indispensable.

Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria)

Cocoi Heron (Ardea cocoi)

Above are two of the other birds I painted this week. Both of these big birds were seen and photographed in the Pantanal wetlands of Brazil.

Next week will see me painting more birds but also a few landscapes (mainly Brazilian beach scenes) including a commissioned Sussex house portrait.

On the admin side I need to create a new website as I had to shut down my last one that was too expensive for my to maintain. C’est la vie.

A busy week ahead.

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Bluebells and bumble bee +

Common Bluebell with bumble bee

Another week of interruptions, one of the hazards of working at home. That said, I managed to complete at least one painting per day but, knowing I would not escape distractions, I decided to steer away from bird paintings for most of the time. I managed to complete two though they didn’t come out exactly as I wanted … watercolour painting is like that anyway.

As we are approaching Spring I was reminded of Spring flowers, which led me to consider a set of British Spring flowers. I did the bluebells first and then Scarlet Pimpernel – both of which grew in my garden when I lived in Sussex.

The Bluebells that I painted are the wild ones (Hyacinthoides non-script) rather than the cultivated Spanish variety (Hyacinthoides hispanica) that many people plant. The wild ones can be distinguished by their bowed heads whereas the spanish stems are erect. Our garden used to be a field with a mix of sycamore, mountain ash and oak trees that provided ample shade.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) is generally regarded as a weed but they are such small plants with tiny bright red flowers that I usually left then to grow. Keener gardeners would pull them out but I even liked to see dandelion that provided colour – what else is a garden for?

Scarlet Pimpernel (flowers are about 1/2 cm diameter)

I have more wild flowers to paint, probably at the weekend, though I do have a project in progress that I would like to finish as soon as possible.

It’s Friday so let’s see!

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Buying art

Over the years I have produced a number of fine art photographic prints, many having won or been nominated for prizes in international photo competitions.

In support of these prints, mainly limited to a print run of just 5, I published a small book Collecting Fine Art Photographic Prints. Although only a small book it is, even though I say so myself, a useful guide on what how to create and maintain a collection of fine art photographic prints.

The guide applies equally to watercolour art, hence I mention it here.

What it covers:

  • what and how to buy
  • care and maintenance
  • framing
  • pricing

Incidentally, I have been asked why an art seller would want a buy-back policy. I have one. The main reason is that it shows buyers that the seller is serious about the quality of their work and has confidence that it is marketable. The subsidiary reason is that if I sell an art-work and, if the buyer wants to exercise the buy-back, I will buy it back at the original selling price and can sell it at current market value ie I will make money via such a policy.

My watercolour and acrylic paintings are sold on the same basis.

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Feel free to buy the book!!!



Rufous-collared or Andean Sparrow (Zonotrichia rubella)

This week has been a busy one for me, paying bills, completing a project consisting of 37 drawings in three styles but including an additional drawing on A3 paper in charcoal, painting a commissioned portrait of a house, and the one above.

The subject is a Rufous-collared Sparrow, also known as the Andean Sparrow (Zonotrichia rubella). In Brazil, where it can be found throughout the country (though I have not sen any in the Northeast), it is known as the Tico-tico – probably after its call.

The watercolour painting is on A3 size paper.

I had run out of paper supplies at the New Year but have since been able to buy enough to keep me going for a few weeks. I still have to do the set of Toucan paintings that was planned. However, as i also bought some acrylic paints I may do another bird portrait in acrylics.

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Birds in sets

Simulation of my paintings, framed and in a room *

About 18 months ago I began a project to complete a set of paintings of the 23 species of Tanagers that I have seen and photographed in Brazil. This project was really no more than a personal objective rather than a commercial one.

I know from experience, from my fine art photography business, that sets of images need to be set at realistic limits. This is usually between 3 and 5 images when selling to individual buyers who want to decorate their homes with a degree of continuity. Some collectors also like small sets. While it is possible to find buyers for much larger sets, e.g. hotels or businesses, it is always better to create smaller sets.

It is also possible to have small sets that could be combined into a larger set. My Tanager collection, all A4 size, is on sale as individual paintings though I plan to create sets in A3 size in the next few weeks.

I borrowed the above setting * from Canvy. I am considering subscribing to this useful application.

The following set of paintings is of the species of Cardinals, featuring red heads, that exist in Brazil and that I have seen and photographed in their environments.

Red-crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronata), Red-capped Cardinal (Paroaria gularis), Red-cowled Cardinal (Paroaria dominica) and Yellow-billed Cardinal (Paroaria capitata)

As I did when starting to paint the Colourful Birds last week, I shall think about sets of 3 or 4 birds in future.

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Colourful birds

Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)


Between administrative tasks I managed to get a few paintings completed this week with the main theme being “colourful birds”, all painted in water colour on A3 size paper.

To get me into the mood I did a quick portrait of a Small Grebe, or Dabchick, that I had photographed while living in Hyderabad, India. I used to walk to the Botanical Gardens in Kondapur, a growing neighbourhood on the edge of the city. The gardens featured a small lake, a pond, a rose garden and a path that meandered through the lawned areas. Plenty of bird life to keep me occupied.

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

The Mandarin Duck is a beautiful creature that is often found in public gardens. I had photos of this species from England, I think at a garden in Sussex (Bentley Wildfowl Trust?) – I had forgotten to label the location in my database.

I then thought about colourful tropical birds, deciding on the Trogons. There are eight species of this genus in Brazil, of which I have seen and photographed the four species that I painted.

Black-tailed Trogon (Trogon melanurus)

Seen in the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil.

Green-backed Trogon (Trogon viridis)

Seen in the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil.

Collared Trogon (Trogon collaris)

Seen in the Atlantic Rainforest of South Brazil.

Blue-crowned Trogon (Trogon curucui)

Seen in the Pantanal wetlands of Brazil.

This was a fun project that took me close to end of my stock of watercolour paper. If I am unable to source a new supply next week then I shall be obliged to paint some acrylics. If I can get more paper then I shall probably paint some Toucans.

Thanks for following. I hope 2021 will be a much better year than 2020! Please comment or ask questions – I usually reply within 24 hours.